This is Part Two of a two-part series on effective business planning. Did you miss Part One? Click here to check it out.
There’s something exquisitely painful about putting attention and effort into something only to have it completely wiped away. If doesn’t even need to be something large– I get unreasonably upset about buttoning a dress shirt crooked and having to start over.
In The Untold Secret of Effective Business Planning, I told you about the two reasons why plans fail. The first, which we covered in that post, is that new opportunities and ideas show up and time needs to be spent appraising them and integrating them if they make the cut. The second way that plans fail is because miscalculating time allowances has a cascading effect.
Things frequently take longer than you thought. But they rarely take less time. So when you have a bunch of deadlines that all rely on say, one person to execute them, any single miscalculation has a cascade effect.
So the thing about plans is to stay loose. Let me explain what I mean.
When they built skyscrapers, they have to actually take into account how much the building will sway in the wind. The building has to be built with a certain amount of flexibility, and in fact, the tallest buildings have a built-in ballast to aid in the balancing act.
Your plan needs flexibility too. And it needs a periodic rebalancing. The way Your Next 6 Months Forever is designed is so that you can set benchmarks and make loose plans for the year. You can set direct outcomes for six months. You plan projects for the next three months. And you assign tasks out only one week to one month.
The further away things are, the less likely you are to have anticipated things correctly. So you might as well not stress about it. Put a tentative target, just to get it written down. But don’t get attached.
Only plan out what you’re reasonably sure you can accomplish. Usually, I only plan specific projects two weeks in advance. So I map out what I think I can get done and I set myself the task of doing it. Then, and this is crucial, I revisit my old plan and see how well I did.
The After-Battle Report
It’s that revisiting that’s so important. If you did exactly what you planned to do, then all is well and you map out the next couple of weeks. If you’re behind, you take a look and check to make sure that getting behind isn’t going to screw up something with a very firm deadline, like a launch date or something. If it is, you have to make allowances and probably cut out something you planned to do. I rarely, if ever, find that I can get something done in less time, so when I find myself running short of time, the answer for me is always to cut something. Your mileage may vary, of course.
If in the last little while you got an awesome new idea or opportunity that you mean to stick into the plan somewhere, this is where you do it. Be diligent about this. If you decide you’re going to do small-group coaching instead of a product launch, that’s going to change a lot of things on your calendar. Do the due diligence so that you can demonstrate that you thought this change all the way through.
“Quick, there’s no time to lose!”
If this feels like a lot, I agree. It’s a lot to pay attention to, and we all have a lot on our plates. But that’s just the way things are when you’re in charge. No one is going to pay attention to these things if you don’t, and no one is going to tell you that you’re not getting the best results from your efforts because they’re so scattershot. There’s only you to hold you accountable. So don’t allow yourself the luxury of going off half-cocked. There’s only one Captain America, and he can’t be everywhere, so you have to put him where he’ll do the most good. Are you catching what I’m throwing here?
However, when you get into the habit of updating your plans and shuffling your prioritized tasks, it’s not that bad. It takes a couple of hours on Friday afternoons for me, unless I’ve decided to change things up a lot. And, if I have decided to make a drastic change to the plan, I need that time to make sure I’ve examined all the angles and I’m prepared to take advantage of things. After all, it’s not going to be a better plan than the one I had if I half-ass it, is it? If having to plan out the changes you’re making is going to mean you don’t have time to actually make the change, well, let me be the one to break it to you– you didn’t have time to undertake that change anyway. An hour in planning saves 10 hours in execution.
Using planning time effectively in your business a discipline. It’s like getting a workout schedule. It’s tough to squeeze it in at first. It’s annoying to get all sweaty and feel like you wasted time you could have spent working. But, before too long, it’s almost second nature, and you’re annoying all your friends by telling them how they should have a workout regimen too. (Not that I would know anything about that….)
You Make Things Happen
Creating (and sticking to) a planning routine is a piece of advice I give that receives universal resistance. Almost everyone sees the value in it, but they see MORE value in doing… and so, push-come-to-shove, the act of updating plans gets the shaft.
Even I do it. Yes. Even me. My Mastermind group will cheerfully attest that I’ve been working from an unfleshed 6 month plan… for a whole six months.
And it’s like working in the dark.
But if you’ve never worked from a really well-clarified and reasonable plan before, I can’t use that as a basis to convince you. Instead, I’ll use something else.
My people deeply value their ability to make things happen. That’s because it’s the only way to serve their Crazy Love. And, it helps them keep their health and sanity together. Some people won’t admit it (the rest will admit it but feel sheepish about it) but they feel a responsibility to do whatever it is that they do. That these things that they make happen NEED to happen, and no one can make it happen but them. That’s another aspect of the Crazy Love– we can delegate the non-essentials, but the spark that only we can offer has to remain.
Like self-care and rest, planning is crucial to making things happen. Without planning, you are limited. You are stifled. You are crushed under the weight of details and unable to see the big picture. Learning to create and work from a plan is a difficult but necessary skill.
I hope that you’ve gotten a few ideas about how to overcome the problems you’ve had with business planning in the past. And , if you want more help, check out Your Next 6 Months (Forever).
If you feel like sharing, would you tell us the Big Idea that you have that you can’t pull off right now?